Did you face any quandaries as you wrote?

I am not politically correct. I tend to call things the way that I see them, but in my own defence I believe I will always admit I was wrong if facts can be presented which show my opinion to be erroneous.

There are a series of scenes ( in the third book) waiting to take their place which will have to be substantially altered.

I envisaged Ximene having a relationship with the Emir of Karaman (Turkey), who was her trading partner.  It would have given me an attractive way to “show” how she was building her wealth instead of “telling” the reader about it. I expected her to emerge with some new knowledge or changes to her character which she could use to advantage.

In my mind it would have been a sympathetic treatment. (similar to Angelique and the Sultan by Sergene Golon}

The Tournament at Venice” Gives you a feel for the treatment iI wanted to give.

It was to procede with a plot line that because Yvette a slave girl given to John, she had become John’s property but under islamic law he now had responsibility for her. it deal with the difficulty of her adjusting to a western and particularly a Cathar environment.

To get this right I needed to know more about Muslims and Islam. I went to Turkey and immersed myself in the culture, food, entertainment, Turkish baths. I left the cities and drove up dirt tracks to remote villages to see for myself.

By this stage I had some expertise in conducting interviews. I used a technique of playing back to people what I though they had told me and seeing if they agreed.

There was something wrong in Turkey. It seemed that there was unwarranted defensiveness.  I was puzzled by the answers I was given and eventually became concerned that I was being mislead.

After I left Turkey I then tried to get a better understanding by consulting islamic sites, sites whose declared aim is to educate and inform the faithful about islamic beliefs.

I was horrified.

Bear in mind this was well before the “Arab Spring” and all the subsequent  difficulties. Suffice it to say I am not surprised by any of it.

After “Charlie Hebdo’ I have taken all information about Islam from my site. Well… nearly!

I no longer feel able to romanticise Islam or the life within a harem,   but time and some reworking may soften that view.

I still have a problem because in book 4, Ximene rescues Isabel and Constance Perez, the illegitimate daughters of Pedro II of Castile ( Pedro the Cruel) from the Alcazar in Seville. One of the threats they face is a resurgence of Islam. I will have to say what it is they are being rescued from.

I cannot avoid it, it is history. Isabelle, though illegitimate, is an ancestor of every English monarch since Henry VII and both Constance and Isabelle are an important part of my story.

I wondered if I should share this with you, but decided that if we are to work together on future books you needed to know. ( see I am using the Earl’s words). Perhaps you can check back with me anything you do decide to use from this section of the interview.

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The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.